Charter Review: Horizon Yacht Charters, Bavaria 46 Cruiser
Dates Reviewed: October 21 to October 28, 2009
Charter Location: Nanny Cay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Yacht Chartered: Livin Wright, 2005 Bavaria 46 Cruiser, 46 foot
Locations: Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI), St. Martin, Grenadines, Antigua / Barbuda
Charter Advisors Recommendation
Livin Wright with Horizon Yacht Charters
Having Covered Horizon Yacht Charters before, we were well aware of the wonderful amenities of their home base location in Nanny Cay. We are never disappointed when we arrive. When we set eyes on our Bavaria 46, Livin Wright, we were immediately impressed with her size and interior volume. She's stable, sea-kindly, and plush. A Mercedes for the sea (actually, BMW as we found out later). The staff at Horizon Yacht Charters had everything well prepared and treated us as old friends. Great yacht, great service, and a great deal!
Charter Company Overview
Horizon Yacht Charters has been named BVIs Yacht Charter Company of the Year. We always enjoy the service and selection of yachts with Horizon Yacht Charters. This is our second visit to their fleet. Located in Nanny Cay (pronounced KEY). They have a solid selection of Monohull and Catamarans from mid sized 30 footers - to 50 plus feet. They are most numerous in Lagoons, Bavarias, Jeanneaus, and Fountain Pajots. They introduce new yachts regularly. In the coming months be on the look out for a brand new, modern catamaran being introduced into their charter fleet. Lets just say... with this kitty, you'll probably have the only one in the mooring field. More on this later.
What They Say About Themselves
As Published on their Website
With four stunning Caribbean charter destinations to choose from, we can offer you the very best sailing the region has to offer - Monohull or multihull, bareboat or crewed - whatever your requirements our experienced reservations staff will help customize your charter to suit your specific needs. We can assist with flight information, hotel accommodation, provisioning, water sports rentals and a host of other services to make your vacation complete. We can also help you fulfill any other unusual requests: want to get married on a deserted beach? Learn to dive? Go parasailing? We will tailor-make your vacation just for you. We are committed to ensuring that everything is perfect in every way.
This time it was the service that made for the value, both in the experience and the overall cost. Horizon Yacht Charters was selected (for a second time) for value. After researching all BVIs area charter companies, Horizon Yacht Charters presented the best value for our one-week review charter. We essentially paid low season, 42-foot Monohull prices for a 46-foot beauty. And no, they did not know we were reviewing them. Future reviews with this company will focus on their wide range of yacht types and experiences. Horizon Yacht Charters has consistently shown to be an outstanding value (across the board) during each of our Charter Advisor Reviews. For more on how we came to select Horizon Yacht Charters, Check Out Yacht Review #3.
Recommended or Chosen Charter Yacht
Livin Wright, a 2005 Bavaria 46 Cruiser really lived up to its name. We were truly "Livin Wright" aboard this one. The Bavaria 46 was not the original yacht we had inquired about though. Rather, we were guided to this yacht for all the right reasons. We'll explain. When searching through the various fleets offered by the numerous BVI Charter Companies, we had our sights set on chartering a newer 42 to 44 Monohull. We previously reviewed a 42 foot Jenneau Sun Odyssey DS. Our intention was to find another 42-foot or slightly larger boat, by a different manufacturer for comparison reasons. We were presented the exact kind of yacht we hoped to find by TMM (www.sailtmm.com). It was a pretty darn new and good looking Beneteau 43. The price was very reasonable for such a modern sailing yacht. It was at this time we received a last reply from Horizon Yacht Charters. They did not have the size or type of yacht we had requested. So...
Horizon Yacht Charters offered a 46-foot yacht for the approximate cost of a 42-foot yacht. A Bavaria 46 Cruiser. Being our first jaunt on a Bavaria, we were all excited to see what they're all about. Horizon Yacht Charters went above and beyond to earn our business and never once treated us like we owed them a favor for the deal.
Not knowing what to expect from a Bavaria made things a bit more interesting. We wondered... how different it could be? We reviewed the images online and read though the PDF instruction manual provided on the Horizon Yacht Charters website. To be blunt, the photos didn't wow. As it turned out... the pictures didn't do the yacht justice! We can sum it up best this way... Exceptional value, outstanding customer service, and a fantastic sailing yacht that stands out from the crowed (46 feet doesn't hurt either). Please see the Yacht Review for more on the Bavaria 46 Cruiser, Livin Wright.
For this trip we opted to limit our pre-provisioning and chose to shop for the bulk of what we needed the morning before our review charter. We asked Horizon Yacht Charters if they would mind if we sent them a short grocery list instead of going though all the provisioning paperwork for just a handful of items. They we glad to help. We ordered items we knew we could not get easily when we arrived (k-bobs, steak, etc.), and the known necessities; breakfast stuff, fresh breads, munchies, and things we didn't want to carry (drinks, fresh water bottles, etc.). This way we had the basics and our "fancy" dinner items. The remainder of what we needed would be easy to pick up the morning after our sleep aboard at Bobby's market (about 10 paces from the dock). This method is not as convenient as fully pre_ordering provisions, but is another option to consider if you're a picky shopper (or eater). Just remember to request your provisions to arrive before your sleep aboard night, not the morning of your charter.
Horizon Yacht Charters was as organized the second time around as the first. Consistency is a good thing. They had already gathered our flight info during the paperwork phase of chartering. They had a taxi waiting at 10 p.m. at night. The drive took approx. 45 min. (on Island time). By 11 Shampoo (our taxi driver) had us unloaded and walked us to our yacht. Total fair for three people, $35. Tipping is recommended, especially if you're coming in late. These guys appreciate it!
Arrival at Base
We can't say enough how much we like Nanny Cay. It's everything you imagine it could be and more. You definitely do not have to go without. From having wonderful hotel showers and private bathrooms with teak doors at your disposal to an early opening cafe (the Genniker), to provisions, to a pool and beach. And we can't forget the Nutty Banana Ice Cream Shop, it's our youngest reviewer's favorite stop! Basically, if you need it for a charter, it's there. The Horizon Yacht Charter Office is located on the second floor adjacent to the Genniker cafe. Look for the stairs going up. You can't miss them.
As we mentioned earlier we arrived late in the evening. The marina and all the shops were closed for the night. No matter, our yacht was docked right up front waiting for us and was lit up with a cool glowing cockpit LED's. Plugged into shore power, they had a few lights on for us, the hatches and ports open, and a tall bottle of rum with a few cokes on the table. We quickly settled in and got unpacked in the wonderful breeze ala Bavaria's smartly positioned, opening side port windows.
Overnight or Sleep Aboard Night
Arriving late in the evening, Nanny Cay was quiet. Light wind, flat water, no partiers. It looked like the perfect scene. One problem: the light wind part. Our Bavaria 46 did not have A/C. We were a bit concerned when we initially walked down to the yacht. We were wondering just how warm things might be down below. When we arrived and began moving bags down we were very happy (and surprised) at how cool it was. Even a bit of a chill. How could this be? We saw the answer quickly. Opening side portholes lining each side of the saloon. And they were plenty big. With these open we had a wonderful cross breeze, something you don't normally experience in the cabin of many charter Monohulls. We slept like babies. By morning we woke slightly chilled. No generator noise to power A/C, not even a fan running. Only the Caribbean air blowing through. This is what sweet dreams are made of.
Our provisions did not arrive the evening we did. Rather they arrived the morning of our charter. This was a miscommunication from the Charter Advisors staff. Lucky for us, the cafe opens as early as sailors rise, and no one went without their morning coffee or tea!
Morning of The Charter
Chart Briefing and Check In
Return visitors are treated to "brief" briefs. Having chartered with Horizon Yacht Charters before, they asked if we had any navigational questions and we were reminded of where we are NOT allowed to go on the chart. The remainder of the time is spent exchanging chartering receipts, and confirming information for your permits. Once all the charter paperwork is complete (about 5-10 min.), you'll have your cruising certificate, state parks permit, and check-out checklist. Smooth and friendly from beginning to end.
Yacht Check-out Checklist
The check-out Checklist is a two pager. One side lists all the items on board for your review and verification. The second side is a large graphic drawing of each side of the boat. We had no issue finding each of the inventory items on the checklist. The yacht was well stocked with safety gear and had ample stowage. With the checklist complete, we moved on to the diagram. We noted the location of a couple of hull rubs and a few small scratches along the transom trim. You should note anything you feel is worthy. A rule we use when inspecting a yacht... as an example, If you look at a small scratch and think to yourself... "Wonder what it would cost to repair that?" Write it down. You're not going to be blamed for other's previous sins, but it's always better to have a record. We also photograph the entire hull and deck before we leave the dock, as well as any nicks or scratches we find. You have some added protection this way, and some really cool vacation pictures of the yacht!
Click to see Livin Wright - Bavaria 46 Cruiser's yacht review.
Yacht, Mechanical, and Safety Briefings
One of the bonuses to a 2005 model boat is that the sail plan is traditional. If you have sailed before, this one is a synch. We were met by our charter mechanic for our onboard safety briefing. We went over our checklist together and asked about any items we wanted more info on. As with any yacht, this one had a couple of things unique to us. The breaker panel at the navigation station and the inverter set up. With some straightforward instruction, we had the lay of the electrical system down. No problems. The entire briefing process took less than 30 min. We were ready to go by 11 a.m. It should be noted that Horizon Yacht Charters had us ready to head off the docks as early as 10 a.m. after an 8:30 a.m. check in. We took some extra time to shop for the remainder of our provisions at Bobby's Market.
Leaving the Docks
There is more than one way to leave a dock. Looks like we found yet another way! During our last visit to Horizon Yacht Charters we were driven from the slip past the channel markers outside the marina. This trip was slightly different. This time we were treated to a reverse exit from the marina. Well, most of it. Driving in reverse, our charter mechanic backed the yacht though the maze of docks and slips, with the ends swapped. We got an up-close lesson on backing up a large yacht. While still backing up, our charter mechanic backed closer to a dock near the fuel dock, inside the breakwater. Once close the dock-head, he pumped forward on the throttle until the yacht stopped smoothly, right on queue at the dock edge. He hopped off on the dock. Just as he hopped off, the yacht moved forward. We were underway! We steered our way out of the fuel dock area, around the breakwater and out the channel. Who said "taking you out of the slip" has to happen the same way, every time? Not us, that's for sure. If you ever have questions or a preference for leaving the slip, let your charter company know. They'll provide the level of service you need and as much freedom as you and they can handle. It won't make you less of a sailor to have 'em motor you out of the marina. We think of it like a valet for the sea. Not to mention the things we learn in the process!
Noteworthy While Underway
The majority of our 7-day review sail took place under Caribbean blue skies. Each afternoon a rain shower would pop up somewhere, but none were serious. The month of October is considered a "down month" in the charter industry, but it looked plenty busy to us. Most charter companies we contacted had 80% or better bookings (good discounts in October). You will run into, as we did, restaurants in various phases of opening for the fall season. It pays to call ahead.
A Pure Sailing experience (with a Motor)
The number one thing our reviewers took away from this review was the pure sailing experience Horizon Yacht Charters provided us with their suggestion of the Bavaria 46. No generator noise, or extra electronic doodads. Just cool breezes, the wind on our cheek, and just enough heel to remind us that we're sailing.
Just like you remember
If you have ever sailed a boat, ever, this one will make sense to you. The Bavaria 46 we chartered was set up as straightforward as they come. All lines were clearly marked, all were simply organized, and everything was where you would either expect it to be, or would want it to be. No new systems to learn, no special tricks, just a good, honest sail plan. The lack of complication in the sailing systems means that there is less to break or foul. But it also requires elbow grease. The absence of electric winches on a yacht of this size may seem daunting. Don't let that stop you. Sure didn't stop us. The two speed winches on the coach roof and on the stern quarters make short work of setting the main and genoa. Would electric winches make the job easier? Sure. More fun? Probably not. Was it difficult without the electric winches? No. It's as much work as you want it to be.
Sailing By Ear
The one item we wished this yacht had, we were glad it didn't. Huh? We learned more because of the absence of this item. That item? A wind direction / speed gauge in the helm. Or anywhere. We figured the owner must love sailing it old school. Glancing up, above the Starboard helm was a zippered "Sunroof." We learned to love this little hole in the roof. Instead of a wind direction / speed gauge, we had a clear view straight up the mast to the wind vein, a full view of our mainsail, and telltails. After a few days we could "see" the wind direction more clearly on the water than we had in years. We were feeling the puffs of the breeze on our cheek and gauging wind speed by feel and heel. We were becoming more at one with the ocean and our yacht. More so than on any charter before. The wind vein became more of a back up to be sure our senses were telling us the truth. Not knowing the actual wind speed was an early issue though. We're slightly nuts about carrying the "right" amount of sail for the given wind conditions. We solved this with technology. "Wind Meter" is an iPhone App that tells you wind speed right from the iPhone mic. We took a few sample wind speeds and checked with yachts near by. Turns out, that little app was nearly spot on, plus or minus a couple of knots. (though it's not very useful under 5 knots or over 25 knots of wind). And like the wind vein, after a day or so we were "feeling" the wind with confidence. By the end of the trip, we grew much closer to nature with a feeling of oneness with the boat and the elements. Like sailing a Hobie or Laser. You feel rather than read. Emotion and feeling becomes the primary factor in decision making. In our case... we got to experience this in a very unexpected place. At the Helm of a big comfey Bavaria 46!
Video - Cruising Down The Sir Francis Drake Channel
Live-ability and Comfort
Motion in the Ocean!
Literally. The motion of this boat is pleasing and muted. Those who might shy away from a Monohull because of motion worries, fear not! This is like driving a Jaguar. Yes, Bavaria yachts are German, but this Yacht is more akin to the plush feeling you get in a Jag (Or Town car for you New Yorkers). She is smooth, comfy, stable, and hardly ever surprises you (in a bad way). She isn't going to out turn or out point another more performance minded yacht, but you'll be the one wearing the smile, with your pinky up, sipping tea.
Our Bavaria 46 did not come with air conditioning or a generator. That was just fine with us. The large opening portholes along either side if the saloon brought in a welcome cross breeze. The combination of the cross breeze with the flow of air from the open main hatches made for a nearly sweat free existence. The evenings were very pleasant and no one had any trouble with sleeping temps. Some actually got chilly!
The Beds and Bedrooms.
First. There are 5 "beds" on the Bavaria version we chartered. One forward in the bow suite, two aft, and two bunks in the bunkroom. All of the bedrooms, A.K.A. cabins, (not including the bunk-room) have seating areas, hatches, opening ports, and their own hanging lockers. The bunk-room takes up some extra seating space that could be used to extend the size of the saloon, but space is not really of concern when you have three reviewers on a 46-foot yacht. The bunk-room was actually one of the cooler (temp wise) rooms on the yacht. The beds in all cabins were comfy, plenty large, and able to take a six foot something person without issue.
If there is one extra reason we like chartering and reviewing Horizon Yacht Charter yachts it's their dinghies. Huh? Right. The dinghies. Yes, everything we have said above still applies, but stay with us here. Horizon Yacht Charters outfits their dinghies with nighttime navigation lights. Front red / green lamp and a stern pole mounted all-around white light. These are detachable so you don't have to run around with all that on the dinghy during the day. We like this a lot! True, a flashlight will help you feel your way through a mooring field in the dark and give you some level of visibility. But, nav lights make you very visible, show your intended direction, and let you use that flashlight to see with exclusively (rather than doing double duty). We have also found that our night vision is better with the flashlight off and the nav lights running. We could not do this if we only had a flashlight! Being seen at night on the water in a small craft like a dingy is paramount for nighttime safety.
Our dinghy was 15 feet long, all of it well maintained, new bottom paint, and carried a strong 15 hp outboard with a saltwater spray cover. Our dingy had a small step / seat / anchor locker at the bow. Worth noting because this little extra touch made it easy to keep the anchor with us, give us a place to stow items that we didn't want to splash and provided a nice seat. Small, but helpful.
A big thank you from the Charter Advisors team to Horizon Yacht Charters for remembering the details and going the extra mile for safety.
Our Chartered Bavaria 46 Cruiser is a true cruiser. No adversity to report. Every item on the yacht worked as it should and in some cases better than expected. The only item one of our testers had a problem with was the marine head (toilet). It worked just fine, but the seat was a bit higher than they were used to. A tippy toe affair, if that makes sense. But if we have to go to this level of detail to find something "not perfect," you can see, we had nothing co complain about.
Swimming and Lime'n
Livin Wright was set up right for relaxing. Lime'n as they say in the Caribbean. The integrated stern swim platform had enough room for two people, a telescopic ladder that folded neatly into the transom (out of sight), and the same stern rinse off shower that we've seen on million dollar motor yachts! Once you're out of the water, the oversized bimini keeps everything shaded well. Even when you stretch out on the cockpit's seats you're in the shade. Extra cushions are stored below each seat. When you're ready for lunch al fresco, the teak cockpit table extends to easily fit 4 (6 if you're family or close friends!).
On deck, amidships (right in front of the mast) there is a center section carved out for sunbathing. When you need to "crisp" up, bring a few cockpit cushions up front and you have your very own lounge! This yacht has tons of deck space. Enjoy every inch of it.
Video - Practicing What We Preach
Fuel and water
Over our 7-night charter (8 if you count the sleep aboard night), we barely burned a quarter tank of diesel, and had three quarters of a tank of fresh water left. For those with a bit of docking angst, consider a yacht one size bigger than you "actually need." No need to dock up when you have more than enough.
For more on this yacht, please click here for our Yacht Review for this Bavaria 46. For Specs (water, fuel, etc), on this yacht, please check out our charter yacht spec sheet.
If there is one thing that makes this yacht stand out it's that it stands out. There are not nearly as many Bavarias running around the BVIs as there are other brands. Add to this the fact that BMW Design Works does all the interiors and you have one head turning, good looking unique yacht on your hands.
But this section is about how she sails, so why bring all that up? Becuase she sails like she's put together by a bunch of folks at BMW! Stout, lively, predictable, sporty, comfy. All could describe a high end Bimmer.
With her mainsail up and the "healthy-size" genoa unfurled, she heels to weather like a lady. He motion is predictable and her sails trim with ease. Her wide groove translates into a relaxing ride that won't spike your heart-rate unless you want her to!
The absense of the wind guage and chart plotter in the helm was missed on day one of the trip. After that we had to let go of our traditional "norms" and adapt to the yacht. Rather than forcing us to let go of what were use to, we found ourselves melding more with the boat, the water, wind and waves. Livin Wright reminded us that some of the techno tricks that we "expect" are nice to have, but a requirement? No. It was nice to sail a bit more "unplugged" and sail by feel instead of by guage. Not to mention how much more relaxing it can be!
For a indepth look at how Livin Wright, the Bavaria 46 Cruiser did under sail, check out our yacht review section for the full scoop.
Super easy. Like when we left, a dingy met us and drove the yacht back into the slip for us. No dolphins this time, but that's ok. We were greeted at the dock when we returned. We completed our check-in checklist covering any items that gave us issue or were not perfect, turned it in and we were done. Because of the trouble with the water and fuel, Horizon Yacht Charters refunded us for the cost of all our fuel and water for the week. No request needed on our part. That's service!
After packing up, our taxi met us and loaded us back up for our return trip to the airport.
Horizon Yacht Charters was presented more than a few opportunities to shine or fall short with customer service. They met every request with a smile, kept us happy, and most importantly, safe. We would gladly charter with them again and would encourage others to do so as well. They have a wide selection of yachts to fit many different needs, crew sizes, and budgets. We are planning more Horizon Yacht charter reviews in the future. Look for reviews sampling a variety of their yachts in the coming months.
By The Numbers
Total Yacht Costs: $3,019
Cost / Fee breakdownYacht: 3,019 with Taxes and Fees
Note: There Was No Up Front Fuel Payment
Duration: 7 days
Deal Booked: We received a special price because the yacht type and size we were looking for was not available. This price was a result of their customer service. We didn't ask.
Extra Trip Fees / CostsMooring fees: $25 per night ($175)
Security Deposit: $1000 (Credit Card or Bank Card Hold released after you return)
Water: $28 (1 refills, both tanks)
Trash disposal: $20
Note: Minor fees and deposits such as permits and insurance deposit, are not listed. The above totals are not to be used as exact costs as these costs change often. This budget summary is intended for planning purposes only and to give a good idea for the average costs involved. The costs listed above are as per what we were charged at the time of charter.
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